Blessed Thomas Tsuji

Blessed Thomas Tsuji

Thomas Tsuji


  • Death: 09/07/1627
  • Nationality (place of birth): Japan

Thomas Tsuji (1570-1627) used many disguises to minister to Christians during the Great Persecution. He was born of a noble Japanese family near Omura, Japan, in 1570, and was educated by the Jesuits whom he joined in 1589. When the edict of 1614 ordered all Catholic priests be banished, Father Tsuji went to Macao and remained there for four years.

He returned to Japan disguised as a merchant and secretly resumed his ministry. Unlike the European Jesuits who could only do ministry in the night, Tsuji went about constantly, sometimes dressed like a gentleman, sometimes like an artisan. His favorite guise was a humble wood seller who could knock at the doors of Christian homes without arousing suspicion. As the persecution against Christians increased, Tsuji came to doubt that he could live up to the ideals of his brothers, and he asked to be released from his religious vows in 1619.

He soon asked to be readmitted but had to go through a period of probation which ended up lasting six years. Not long after he became a Jesuit again, soldiers burst into the house where he was staying just as he finished celebrating Mass. Tsuji admitted being a priest and was imprisoned in Omura. After 13 months he was finally sent to Nagasaki to be sentenced. Along with the two men who were at that final Mass, he was burned at the stake outside the city on the hill made holy by many martyrs.

Martyres in Japan

Originally Collected and edited by: Tom Rochford, SJ